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Incoming: Biden Was Ready To Fight Warren But Got Trolled By Castro

Recapping the Democratic debate, the lobbyist getting Congress on board with decriminalizing sex work, and your weekend longreads. This is your BuzzFeed News morning update for Sept. 13.

Posted on September 13, 2019, at 7:42 a.m. ET

Joe Biden was ready for a fight with Elizabeth Warren. Instead he got trolled by Julián Castro.

Biden tops the Democratic primary polls. But, thanks to repeated verbal stumbles and a recharged progressive flank, he can’t shake doubts from other candidates. Many, including some Biden advisers, expected the hits in Thursday night's 10-candidate presidential debate would come from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Instead, they came from Julián Castro, who was particularly eager in the Democratic debate Thursday to exploit those vulnerabilities and to turn Biden, 76, into a caricature: an aging, forgetful has-been unfit for the moment.

Warren, for her part, continued to demonstrate how she is shaping this primary, helping turn the party’s center into its right and its radical left into a plausible alternative.

Andrew Yang, who keeps winning the internet primary, kicked off his debate appearance with a plan to give away $120,000 in campaign funds in a pilot program of his universal basic income plan to 10 Americans.

Pete Buttigieg told his coming out story as his closing remarks, a moment that many felt was emblematic of how far the US has come on LGBTQ rights.

And, as always, there were tweets.

Win McNamee / Getty Images and Robyn Beck/AFP / Getty Images

Democratic voters are opening up to decriminalizing sex work. This lobbyist wants to get Congress on board.

Kate D’Adamo has spent the year lobbying in the US Capitol on behalf of sex workers, a workforce often maligned and portrayed cartoonishly on TV dramas. On a recent morning she was speaking to a legislative aide to a House member, trying to unravel a law passed last year designed to tackle human trafficking that had, in the process, outlawed the online platforms that many sex workers used to screen clients. Known as SESTA-FOSTA, the law has caused more sex workers to work without those tools, making them more vulnerable to predators on the street.

Part of a growing national network of activists behind a backlash against the law, D'Adamo has quarterbacked a bill that’s expected to be introduced in Congress this fall to study the ramifications of the law — part of a larger goal of repealing it and, one day, decriminalizing sex work nationwide.

Three senators are demanding answers from Amazon about its "unfair and dangerous" delivery system. Following a BuzzFeed News investigation into Amazon's delivery network, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown wrote to Jeff Bezos, accusing the tech giant of disregarding public safety and workers’ rights and demanding information about the companies that deliver its packages.

The fire that killed 34 people on a commercial dive boat off the California coast started while all crew members were asleep, investigators said. Officials say initial examinations indicate the 33 passengers and a member of the crew died of smoke inhalation before being burned. Only the five crew members above deck were able to escape the flames.

The House Judiciary Committee has passed rules for its Trump impeachment investigation. The committee voted along party lines, 24–17, with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposing, and will shape the panel’s procedures on further hearings as it continues its Trump investigation.

Saturday Night Live announced the show's first full-time Asian comedian. Bowen Yang was named alongside Chloe Fineman and Shane Gillis in joining the series as featured players. The new additions come after veteran comedian, writer, and Emmy nominee Leslie Jones announced her departure from the show in late August.

Weekend longreads

Against Nihilism. If you follow the news (And you do, because you're here, bless you), you know it's *exhausting*. Politics, climate change, shootings — it can be enough to make you think Why bother? Shannon Keating recently confronted that unsettling question, and through the struggle shows a way forward.

Are You The One? Proves Soulmates Aren’t Really A Thing. The MTV show involves 16 singles who live together while participating in challenges, all in the hopes of correctly identifying their “perfect match.” Natalie Adler explains that this year's historic all-queer cast won their season — but not because they played by straight people’s rules. "I know how hard it is for a queer person to try to play by straight people’s rules and win at their game."

Here’s What It’s Like For A Woman To Serve Life In Prison. OK, this isn't so much a long read as a medium read and a long look. Sara Bennett is a former criminal defense lawyer who began practicing photography to bring a human face to women serving life sentences in prison. Photo essay editor Gabriel Sanchez spoke with her about her work (Looking Inside: Portraits of Women Serving Life Sentences), and compiled a selection of her photos and quotes from her subjects.

Sara Bennett

“When I first came in it was weird, but I learn to deal with it by going to church and working, studying for my God," Andrea, 64, says. She was sentenced to 20 years to life and incarcerated at age 46 in 2001. "Reading, bible studies, just doing me. My upbeat attitude comes from Jesus. As a woman who has rebuilt herself. I love being in my 60s because I have seen and heard about so many people I know dying.”

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